My adult life can be divided into two portions: there was Life Before the Cozy Cottage and Life After the Cozy Cottage.
Before the Cozy Cottage, things were complicated. I can remember specific days when I shed real tears over money, or the lack thereof. Some nights I lay sleepless in bed, wondering how I could cut corners in our family’s budget to make ends meet. But that was before. I sleep like a baby at night now.
What is the Cozy Cottage?
Our Cozy Cottage is what we call our dream house, the one we found in 2015, that led us to completely redefine our lives and priorities.
The Cozy Cottage is located just a mile from our previous home, across the town in a suburb with streets lined with arching trees; kids ride their bikes outside, crisscrossing the neighborhood; we have beautiful parks, award-winning schools, and a public library that serves as a bastion of intellect and entertainment in our community. And so, you might be surprised that the dream house I set my sights on was a modest brick ranch, built in 1949, boasting a 940 square foot floor plan, a 1-car garage, 1 bathroom, and two bedrooms.
And so, you might be surprised that the dream house I set my sights on was a modest brick ranch, built in 1949, boasting a 940 square foot floor plan, a 1-car garage, 1 bathroom, and two bedrooms.
That’s right. I said two bedrooms.
On moving day, our four children ranged in ages 7 to 17. We’d also just newly adopted Baxter, our Lab-Shepherd mix, 60 pounds of lovable chaos.
The “other house,” as we call it, was big, and beautiful. And expensive. It had 4 bedrooms. Plenty of rooms. Lots of space. Our life in the other house wasn’t bad, but it had become increasingly more noticeable that we didn’t do much else than work to pay for our big house. Our vacations were few and far between: we tried adopting the term “staycation” to describe what we should’ve just called “staying home for Spring Break because we didn’t have money.”
Life After the Cozy Cottage
Downsizing with four kids turned out to make a lot of sense for our family: our three sons and one daughter saw a definite shift as we set out, as a family, to reduce our belongings by half. It forced conversations about what was important in our lives, and what was merely taking up space. Before moving day, we’d filled two dumpsters, and given away or sold countless other items.
My daughter lined up her menagerie of stuffed animals and chose only the ones she truly loved; my sons let go of games with missing pieces, broken electronics, dollar-store and fast-food promotional toys, but re-affirmed their love for all things Star Wars and Harry Potter.
I released many of my large kitchen toys that only got used once or twice a year; my husband let go of some of his “someday” projects that cluttered up the garage. As a family, we were making a move that proclaimed our highest priority: we wanted to live a bigger life, with large-scale experiences. We wanted to edit out the junk and replace our belongings with fewer, better quality ones.
So here’s the quick-and-dirty list: Five Ways the Cozy Cottage Widened My World
1. More playing, less cleaning. I don’t like cleaning, and I don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it. I can plug my vacuum cleaner into a central socket and reach every room in my house. Now that’s a quick way to vacuum. Before I know it, I’m off to play.
2. More vacations, fewer staycations. Yosemite. Yellowstone. Sequoia. Badlands. Acadia. Boston. Los Angeles. A funk band at Red Rocks. Toes dipped in the Atlantic and Pacific.
3. Happier kids. No longer overwhelmed by “too much,” they appreciate the simpler things. And sharing a room helps if you can believe it. Slamming the door shut is not an option. You gotta work out conflicts with your roommates.
4. More romance. I’ll spare you the details, but you know what’s a real mood-killer? Financial strain. Get rid of it, people!
5. Experiences, not things. Retail therapy is not a viable option. We have everything we need, and no space for extra. Now, it’s all about looking for live music or new plays, and getting together with friends to create new memories. At the end of my life, I hope I can say, “Remember that time we …?” instead of wondering who’s going to keep and treasure all my stuff.
Fling with wild abandon. Edit stuff without overthinking. Donate, donate, donate. Sell what you can. Then, buckle up, because life is about to get much more interesting.
About the Author: Carol enjoys the look on people’s faces when she tells them her family lives in a 2-bedroom house. She writes about downsizing at Unwanting.com and publishes a weekly newsletter, The Cozy Cottage Chronicles.